The family of a little boy with terminal cancer was overwhelmed when they found out nearly 170,000 people were interested in his story on our website.
Wednesday, Donnie Sharp passed away, and they say his final moments were extraordinary.
Monday, New Orleans firefighters granted five-year-old Donnie Sharp's wish to wear the badge. No one knew it would be the last.
"As soon as he took his last breath, it was just, you could see the relief. You could see the relief," said his mother Laura Sharp.
Donnie had a terminal nerve cancer, but yesterday he was alert, talking, and just a little dehydrated. Mom took him to Children's Hospital and that's when she got the greatest gift of her life.
"He said, 'Mommy do you see 'em?' And I said, 'See what?' I said, 'It's just you and Mommy.' And he said, 'No, it's not. It's not. Do you see 'em?' He said he saw angels when we were downstairs," Laura said through tears.
Up in this hospital room, Donnie asked her to do something he never had before, turn the lights on.
"He just looked back and forth like he was looking at somebody and he said, 'I see 'em. I see 'em,'" Laura continued.
She told him 'I love you,' because in that moment, she believed many angels had come for him.
"And after he said, 'I love you too,' he just sat back and took his last breath. He wasn't afraid," She said.
Sister Gabby, 6, will not let go of his beloved stuffed animal. She signs 'I love you' to the sky. Brother Chris sent him a message.
"I told him, 'I wish you will be friends with other people in Heaven and get a great life," said Chris Sharp, 8, with a solemn expression on his face.
Donnie collected pop tabs to raise money for sick children. His mom says when she got home, one lay waiting in their front yard. She says a gift from him. Dad says Donnie left him with the secret for a good life.
"He told me, 'All I want you to do, Daddy, is love Mommy. And I want Mommy to love you and you will be happy," said Derek Sharp, Donnie's father, with tears streaming down his cheeks.
Mothers experience the intense joy of seeing a child take the first breath. They fear the excruciating heartache if his last comes before theirs. But after a two and a half year battle, there's one comfort.
"He will never have cancer again. He is cancer free. Cured," said Laura.
The Sharp family welcomes anyone to Donnie's service Saturday at 1pm at Mothe Funeral Home in Old Algiers. And they thank everyone for the donations for his medical care.
To donate to medical costs: http://www.gofundme.com/8yj25w
Here is the story when the NOFD swore Donnie in as a member, granting his wish to be a fireman like his grandfather, John Manning was.
On a personal note, here in New Orleans we seem to all have, not six degrees of separation, but one or two. And I love that about 'us.'
When I met the Sharp family Monday at the fire station, Donnie's grandmother, Nina Manning, came up to me and said that if it weren't for my Dad, obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Charles Farris, Junior, she may have never had her two daughters. She calls them miracle babies. One of them, Laura, of course, is Donnie's mother.
I wanted to call Dad so badly, as I always did when patients said kind words. He passed away in August at the age of 87, still practicing medicine, specialized in hormone replacement therapy for post-menopausal women. I, and his thousands of patients miss him terribly. I can't imagine the heartache that the Sharps are feeling at a life, unlike my Dad's, stopped so very young.
Thank you for the honor of telling Donnie's story. Thanks to the NOFD for what you did and to the NOPD for planning to give some comfort to the Sharp family. And thanks to the thousands of you, who ALWAYS are so giving to one of our own. meg